Performance Assessment: The Heart of a 21st Century Education – Stuart Kahl

Assessment Learning Network, January 30, 2019


This presentation provides views of performance assessments and balanced assessment systems in which they play a significant role. It emphasizes the importance of both foundational knowledge/skills and deeper learning, addresses quality issues associated with performance assessments (dispelling some myths), and offers some commentary on the pros and cons of competency-based education and assessment. The second part of the presentation describes an approach to curriculum-embedded performance assessment addressing common concerns about testing and describes “minimum-burden” implementation.

Framing Questions

  1. How would you define “performance assessment”? What are its important characteristics?
  2. What do you think should be ”balanced” in a balanced assessment system?
  3. What do you see as obstacles to the implementation of performance assessment at a significant level?
Event Resources

Presenter: Stuart Kahl

Dr. Stuart R. Kahl, Ph.D. As an independent consultant and former founder and CEO of Measured Progress, Inc., Stuart Kahl has served as a senior technical advisor to several educational organizations. Prior to his thirty-five years at Measured Progress, he worked for the Education Commission of the States, the University of Colorado, Clark University, and RMC Research Corporation. Working in the assessment field for over four decades, Dr. Kahl has extensive, hands-on experience in the design, development, analysis, and reporting of large-scale assessment programs, many of which included ground-breaking performance components. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics and masters in education degree from the Johns Hopkins University. His doctorate from the University of Colorado was in curriculum and instruction and focused on research and evaluation methodology and mathematics education. Measured Progress is a not-for-profit, full-service provider of customized, state and district-level educational assessments. Under Dr. Kahl’s leadership from 1998 to 2011, Measured Progress helped states to attain their own goals for educational growth, as well as those mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). During his tenure, the company grew to national prominence, increasing its annual gross revenue by a factor of seven and the size of its regular staff by a factor of four. Measured Progress has held contracts for all or part of assessment programs in over half of the states. Dr. Kahl presents regularly at regional and national conferences and frequently publishes research papers and commentaries on current issues and trends in education. He has taught graduate-level statistics and measurement courses, worked on a number of federally-funded and foundation-funded research grants, and been recognized for his innovative work in designing standard-setting procedures associated with non-multiple-choice item formats. Besides large-scale educational assessment in general, Dr. Kahl’s specialty areas include formative assessment, curriculum-embedded performance assessment, and teacher assessment literacy. The Association of Test Publishers (ATP) awarded Dr. Kahl the 2010 ATP Award for Professional Contributions and Service to Testing.

Learning Moments

LM-Stuart Kahl: Performance assessment
LM-Stuart Kahl: Characteristics of performance assessment
LM-Stuart Kahl: What should be 'balanced' in a balanced assessment system?
LM-Stuart Kahl: Obstacles to the implementation of performance assessment
LM-Stuart Kahl: Using performance assessment to capitalize on cultural context
LM-Stuart Kahl: Pervasive use of performance assessment

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